'Pura Vida' in Costa Rica
The Osa Peninsula is one of the most bio-diverse regions on earth and home to secret surf breaks...
Thick drops of tropical rain pelt my face as I stretch my hand skywards and search for a grip on the slippery cliff space. I pull my bare foot up to another hold and push myself up onto the ledge, turning around for the first time to look at the gorge below me.
The rain is pouring into the Costa Rican rain forest, swelling the river and amplifying the force of the waterfall that roars just meters to my left. For a moment, I'm seized by vertigo and I feel my fear of heights start pulling me back before the edge.
Back home, I might have walked away. But this trip is all about my bucket list, so I bend my knees, jump into the abyss and leave my fear behind me.
Costa Rica was the perfect choice for our fourth destination. After three weeks of incessant travel our bodies and minds were starting to feel worn out. We'd left Barbados as the island celebrated its annual carnival and had to dodge glasses of rum to get onboard our plane to Costa Rica. We arrived in San Jose, and – uneventfully – collapsed of exhaustion.
We awoke in the company of the local MyD rep, Chuck Chastain, an American expat who calmly reassured us that he had the perfect antidote to our travel fatigue – a week in Costa Rica, soaking up the pura vida lifestyle that makes the country synonymous with relaxation.
Chuck's advice was simple: flee San Jose and head south as quickly as possible towards the Costa Ballena, a relatively undeveloped stretch of coastline where he had made his home. Chuck told us that he also worked as a concert promoter in his spare time, and that we'd wrap up the week with a live music show at a new venue, the Electric Garden.
First stop was Playa Hermosa, long known as one of the most consistent surf breaks in the country. The town is a simple string of hotels and restaurants sandwiched between the jungle and the beach, and we stayed at one of the classic lodges, the Backyard Hotel. Our suite looked out over the black sand beach and we spent the whole first day in the water.
With almost 1,300km of beaches, we had to continue exploring. We headed south to the Costa Ballena, stopping at the nature preserve of Parque Nacional Manual Antonio, one of Costa Rica's 26 national parks and part of the 25% of the country protected by the government.
Costa Rica was early to adopt eco-tourism, seeing it as a way to bolster their economy while preserving their unique biosphere. In the Costa Ballena, we set out to check out some of the eco-tourism options in nearby Playa Dominical and Uvita, basing ourselves in a deluxe suite at the Villas Alturas, where we had a panoramic view of the whole region.
Ranchos, Rafting and Rivers
First we linked up with Dominical Surf Adventures, who took us up the Savegre River for a two hour rafting excursion through the rainforest. The rapids were fun and challenging, but never too intense to stop our guides from pointing out all the local species of flora that populated the riverbank: from natural cures for malaria to the source of Chanel's No 5 perfume.
The next day we moved over to the nearby Rancho DiAndrew, a hacienda located 4km off the highway up a steep dirt track. The twenty minute 4x4 drive took us to a multi-building complex completely surrounded by jungle overlooking the rainforest and the whale's-tail-shaped sand spit that gives the region its name.
The hotel's owner Andrew took us on his famous waterfalls expedition through a gorge behind his house, guiding us up a series of rope ladders climbing up the cliff face until I stood on the edge of the aforementioned cliff – and jumped!
Surfari to the Osa Peninsula
All that time in the rainforest made us want to delve deeper into the wild. We got hooked up with a 4x4 courtesy of Solid Car Rentals and met up with local surf instructor Rama of Rama Surf, and set off on a trek to the remote Osa Peninsula, one of the most bio-diverse regions on the planet and home to a number of secret surf breaks – all of which we promised to keep secret... sorry guys!
Soaking Up Pura Vida
We spent our last days editing these videos while hanging out at the Rancho diAndrew, where Chuck and Andrew busied themselves with preparing for the debut show of their new music venue, the Electric Garden, also on the hotel's premises.
After a few beachside yoga lessons from Stellar Yoga, we wrapped up our videos and spent our last night enjoying the concert in our backyard, where local bands Ojo de Buey played with South Carolina-based Holy City Hooligans.
We could have stayed in Costa Rica for much, much longer, but the next morning it was time to hop in our truck and drive four hours back to San Jose to catch our flight to destination number five.
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